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A Tale of Two Cities

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“Bad Fortune!” cries The Vengeance, stamping her foot in the chair, “and here are the tumbrils! And Evremonde will be despatched in a wink, and she not here! See her knitting in my hand, and her empty chair ready for her. I cry with vexation and disappointment!” “What bad luck!” yells The Vengeance, stomping her foot on the chair. “And here are the tumbrils! And Evremonde will be killed in just a moment. And she’s not here! See! Her knitting is in my hand and her empty chair is ready for her. I’m so angry and disappointed I will cry!”
As The Vengeance descends from her elevation to do it, the tumbrils begin to discharge their loads. The ministers of Sainte Guillotine are robed and ready. Crash!—A head is held up, and the knitting-women who scarcely lifted their eyes to look at it a moment ago when it could think and speak, count One. As The Vengeance gets down off of her chair to cry, the tumbrils begin to unload the prisoners. The executioners at the guillotine are dressed and ready. There is a crash. Someone’s head is cut off and held up to the crowd. The knitting women, who hardly looked at the head a moment ago when it was alive, count “one.”
The second tumbril empties and moves on; the third comes up. Crash! —And the knitting-women, never faltering or pausing in their Work, count Two. The second tumbril empties and moves on. The third comes up. There is a crash. The knitting women, who never stop knitting, count “two.”
The supposed Evremonde descends, and the seamstress is lifted out next after him. He has not relinquished her patient hand in getting out, but still holds it as he promised. He gently places her with her back to the crashing engine that constantly whirrs up and falls, and she looks into his face and thanks him. The man who is supposedly Evremonde climbs down from the tumbril. The seamstress is lifted out after him. He doesn’t let go of her hand as he gets out, but is still holding it as he promised. He gently places her with her back to the guillotine. The blade is constantly whirring up to the top and then falling down again. She looks into his face and thanks him.
“But for you, dear stranger, I should not be so composed, for I am naturally a poor little thing, faint of heart; nor should I have been able to raise my thoughts to Him who was put to death, that we might have hope and comfort here to-day. I think you were sent to me by Heaven.” “If not for you, dear stranger, I wouldn’t be so calm. I am a poor little thing and am weak. Nor would I have been able to turn my thoughts to Him who died so that we could have hope and comfort here today. I think you were sent to me by Heaven.”
“Or you to me,” says Sydney Carton. “Keep your eyes upon me, dear child, and mind no other object.” “Or you to me,” says Sydney Carton. “Keep looking at me, dear child, and don’t worry about anything else.”
“I mind nothing while I hold your hand. I shall mind nothing when I let it go, if they are rapid.” “I don’t worry about anything while I hold your hand. I won’t worry about anything when I let it go either, if they kill me quickly.”
“They will be rapid. Fear not!” “They will be quick. Don’t be afraid!”
The two stand in the fast-thinning throng of victims, but they speak as if they were alone. Eye to eye, voice to voice, hand to hand, heart to heart, these two children of the Universal Mother, else so wide apart and differing, have come together on the dark highway, to repair home together, and to rest in her bosom. The two of them stand in the quickly shrinking group of victims. But they are speaking as if they are alone. Their looks, their voices, their hands, and their hearts are connected. These two children of the earth, the Universal Mother, who are otherwise so different, have come together on the way to their deaths, to rest in her bosom.
“Brave and generous friend, will you let me ask you one last question? I am very ignorant, and it troubles me—just a little.” “My brave, generous friend. Will you let me ask you one last question? I don’t understand something, and it bothers me a little.”
“Tell me what it is.” “What is it?”
“I have a cousin, an only relative and an orphan, like myself, whom I love very dearly. She is five years younger than I, and she lives in a farmer’s house in the south country. Poverty parted us, and she knows nothing of my fate—for I cannot write—and if I could, how should I tell her! It is better as it is.” “I have a cousin. She is my only relative. She is an orphan, like me, and I love her very much. She is five years younger than I am, and she lives in a farmhouse in the south country. We had to leave each other because we were so poor. She doesn’t know that I am about to die because I don’t know how to write and couldn’t send her a letter. Even if I could, how would I tell her? It’s better that she doesn’t know.”
“Yes, yes: better as it is.” “Yes, yes. It’s better that she doesn’t know.”
“What I have been thinking as we came along, and what I am still thinking now, as I look into your kind strong face which gives me so much support, is this: —If the Republic really does good to the poor, and they come to be less hungry, and in all ways to suffer less, she may live a long time: she may even live to be old.” “What I’ve been thinking as we rolled along, and what I’m still thinking now, as I look into your kind, strong face that gives me so much support, is this: If the Republic really does help the poor, and they become less hungry and suffer less, she may live a long time. She may even live to be an old woman.”

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